Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Card

This year I did another photo Christmas card, trying to fit as many of our cross country pictures on it as I could, but was only able to select a few of the ones I wanted...
And of course, in my true brain tumor fashion (I only remember my head because it's screwed on), I left my name off the card, but did remember to include the dog's name!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Big Doctor's Appointment

Last Monday, December 17th was my big doctor's appointment up at UCLA. I was planning on staying at the round hotel up there, but since I had just spent the weekend up in Las Vegas for my daughter's cheer competition, we got home too late to drive up there. My husband said "we are only going to spend a few hours in the hotel by the time we get up there, so lets do it another time where we can really enjoy it." So, another time it will be.

The cheer competition was great. Again, my daughter's team took first place. It seems they are always the grand champion at the competitions they go to. They work hard to get it and it definitely pays off!

At my appointment, the first thing in the morning I had an MRI (wish I could sleep in those), but it's hard with all the noise. Then I had to go to see Emma (my surgeon's NP) to get my blood work done and a check up from the vaccine I received last June. From there I went see my oncologist. I was his first appointment and got in right away, which is so nice, and he told us that from my Pet Scan in October there are some "hot spots" in my brain which are residual tumor. Dr. Lai said that my tumor is very slow growing and he will not be able to see any growth until he can compare my last MRI to one that I will get in a year from then. Dr. Lai said he wanted to ask my surgeon, Dr. Liau if another surgery is possible, to which I found out last night she doesn't think it's safe, or he wants to start chemo in the next year. I have started some natural treatments and would like to continue them (also I feel like we should give the vaccine a chance to work), so now Sean and I have some decisions to make.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Why Me?

I have often been asked if if I ever ask myself or God "why me?"

I really haven't but one day near UCLA, there was a drunk bum and Sean asked why not him, why someone who has 4 kids to raise? And I have always just thought that this is God's plan and that something positive would come out of it (and positive things already have).

So, yesterday there was a shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut, in which 20 children were killed by a gun man. Watching the news, and knowing i have kids that age brought me to tears. For someone to take the life on an innocent child, when there is not anything they could have done to protect themselves, he took something so precious and it was so hard to watch. I was thinking what if something like that happened in my kids' elementary school, I would be besides myself. The thought of having to tell one of my children that their friend to brother passed away is just too hard to think about. The gunman killed himself.

All of this got me thinking, why not this guy who has no care about human life and even took his own life. Why couldn't he have been the one to get brain cancer, since he's taking his own life anyways and I have so much I want to live for.

I just had to sit back and think, God has his own plan for my life and that of my kids. All I can do is to cover my children and my family in prayer daily. I also think I should look at it as why not me. I've been blessed by this in so many ways.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bling, Brain Cancer fundraiser

In my quest to find an alternative/natural treatment for brain cancer, I have discovered that it is quite expensive and insurance doesn't cover one penny of it. Big Pharma really has a hold on our government (but I'll save that rant for another time). So with the help of a friend I decided to hold a fundraiser for my alternative treatments by hosting a Premier Designs Jewelry Party at my house. Many of my girlfriends came, and we had a blast. It was easy and fun.

It was such an easy way to raise money. I was able to hang out with friends and family, while someone else sold the jewelry! And the best part is that I will receive about $500 for alternative treatments, some of which I have already started. But now I will be doing more! I'm going to start with grinding up the inside of apricot seeds, which have vitamin B-17 (Big Pharma had the FDA make it illegal to see in the US, but many other countries use it for cancer treatment).

The party was a success and I even got a bit of free jewelry. I would love to someday become a consultant to make a little extra money for my treatments, but I will have to wait until Ben is in school.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I will soon be checking another thing off my bucket list

There is a hotel in West LA that I have always wanted to stay at. It's a round hotel and I have often wondered what it looked like on the inside, when I have driven by it. Because of my curiosity of it, I decided to add it to my bucket list, which my husband laughs at (but I laugh at his wanting to drive a Ferrari up the California Coast)!
On December 17th, I have my next BIG doctor's appointment. I will be getting my 3 month MRI, seeing my surgeon for  6 month check on the clinical trial vaccine I got in May and June, and seeing my Oncologist to see if anything is growning or changing in my brain. I always get very nervous before my appointments, and stress/worry a lot. But this appointment starts at 7am, so we either leave our house in San Diego at 4am or stay the night up there. My wonderful hubby said we could stay at the round hotel the night before. I'm finally feeling excited for my appointment, my stress has melted away this time! Although this hotel used to be a Holiday Inn, it has been remodeled into a nice boutique hotel, and in West LA near UCLA, that is going to cost lots of $$$$$$$$$! I'm not going to tell Sean about the remodel until he sees the price when he books it!!
I'll be sure to take lots of pictures and write a blog about our stay! Maybe I need to start picking out something on my bucket list that we can do for each appointment, since this made me feel so much better about going up there.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The unluckiest person alive!!

My husband often jokes with me that I am the unluckiest person alive, because of all that I have been through. So a few weeks ago when I and my doctor found several lumps in my breast, we decided I needed to have a mammogram and an ultrasound.

Sean calls me the unluckiest woman, but after having a successful surgery and learning that I had more than 14 months to live, he decided that we need to play the lottery that day, and we did, but lost!!
We may not have won the lottery that day, but in a way we did. Deciding to change our lives, being healthy, fighting this cancer, and living a long life (hopefully longer than the 3 to 8 years the doctors predict for me).
The results of my mammogram and ultrasound were good. The radiologist said the lumps were benign!! YEAH!! But I'm still left wondering if it's benign, then what is it really? A cyst? An infected milk duct (from my nursing years)? I was told that I have to ask my regular doctor what exactly it is. I'll be sure to post an update as soon as I talk to my doctor, but it seems strange to me that the radiologist couldn't tell me anything more than that it was benign. I'm not at all worried, anymore, but I want to find out exactly what it is. One really hurts (like a clogged milk duct), so I want to see what we can do about it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Budwig Protocal Diet

In my quest to cure this brain cancer, I have read about several "natural cures." Whether or not they will work on me, I don't know. But since there is no cure yet for brain cancer, I figured I might as well try. The easiest for me to try right now is the Budwig Protocol Diet. In which, cottage cheese and flax oil are emulsified together with a hand mixer and eaten. So I decided that today was the day to start it. I found a website that seemed to have some good information on it and went with it. Although this site states that I can have fruit with it, others only had me taking the 2 together, so that's how I did it today.

Started off with the ingredients (all organic of course)
Measured them and added it to the mixing cup.
Emulsified them with the hand mixer
  It came out as a thick paste
I let (made) my 3 year old, Ben, test it out (he eats everything), but he didn't care for it!
Then I gagged it down. I ate it all!! But it was hard getting it all down. It's very thick and has a very slight taste (which I can't describe). I was shocked that I was able to get it all down. It was so thick, that it stuck to my teeth and made it even harder to eat! Now my hope and prayer is that this does something. The website says I can have some fruit with it, so I'm going to try that tomorrow!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!!

This year was a much better Thanksgiving than last year, when I was just released from the hospital with a brain tumor diagnosis.

This year we know exactly what I have, so no guessing, and I've already gone through the surgeries, been treated, and somewhat know what to expect.

We spent Thanksgiving at my brother Randy's house this year. (Last year most of my family came down to my house as I was just released from the hospital and my brother, Tyler, and his family flew down to see us.)

The men and older boys in my family golfed as they do every year in the annual Teffeteller Thanksgiving Golf tournament. As usual, my husband's team won the tournament. I was thrilled, it's always good to have bragging rights!! While the men were golfing, the women and my young boys were hanging out at my brother Randy's house and talked and cooked and ate the appetizers we put out.

We had a really good meal. It was my first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian, so I didn't eat any turkey. But I have always liked the side dishes and desserts the best, so I was able to load up on those. My husband and my boys did eat turkey. My husband, Sean, said that Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday and that he can't go without eating the turkey because he looks forward to it every year. My daughter and I were the only ones who stayed vegetarian! I don't see anything wrong with their eating the turkey, it's not like we are vegetarian because of animal rights. We are for health reasons.

We had such great family time. I wish these days could last forever! And it was a beautiful Southern California day in the low 80's.

I was also fortunate enough to volunteer in my 3rd graders class last Tuesday for his Fall party. The room mom, had the kids make turkeys in which the feathers told what they are grateful for. The students in his class put a whole bunch of different things they are thankful for such as mom, dad, grandparents, siblings, food, Jesus, but not my son. He decided to write that he was thankful for his video games and his money!! Sometimes you just have to laugh. And when I brought it home a set it up on the kitchen table, the dog got it a chewed on it, so no picture of the finished product. And Josh was not happy about it, but it was probably going to make it's way into the trash that evening, so I wasn't too concerned.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Anniversary!!

Yesterday was my 1 year anniversary of my seizure, that lead doctors to the discovery that I have cancer. It was a strange day for me. On one hand I was feeling sad that a year of my life has already passed me by, but then my husband, Sean, said that I am in a much better place than I was a year ago. I've had most of the tumor removed through surgeries, a vaccine, and I still have chemo and radiation in my back pocket (because you can only do those once in your life and I haven't had them). So we celebrated as a family, since we're all in this together. We went to BJs restaurant and had a nice dinner and a pozookie, which is a freshly baked cookie with homemade ice cream on top. It was a good night. But the kids were worn out from the school day and started laying down at the end of our dinner. So we came home, had sparkling cider for the kids and champagne for Sean and I. It felt great to celebrate and spend time with my family.

Now I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, and thinking of all I have to be thankful for!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I am so bad, here I go again...

Well, part of my reason for creating this blog, probably the biggest reason, was to leave my children with a lasting memory of me and to use the blog/journal/pictures from our summer trip and turn it into a photo book from one of those photo places like Shutterfly or even Costco. But, I dropped the ball. I'm going to try to at least post weekly updates and in the mean time fill in the dates from our trip as I was keeping a journal on my iPad during our trip, but it's just too time consuming for me to upload it and ad photos to it. I want that time for my children and have been feeling a mixture of guilt and conflict over writing this and spending time with my children. Today they are in school, so I figured I would post this.

I've been having a tough couple of days, here is a copy of my latest post on my care pages account...

"Cancer Sucks!

Posted Nov 14, 2012 12:24pm
Yesterday was a really tough day for me, but since it looks like I haven't posted in a while, let me get you caught up. About 3 weeks ago, on October 22nd (my boys 1st official day of Fall Break) I had a seizure while cooking dinner. I was cutting tomatoes and stuff for tacos, with all of my boys standing on chairs around me trying to help, luckily I had not yet turned on the stove for the fake taco "meat." From what I've been told as I don't remember any of it. I slowly went down to the ground, grabbing the chair as I fell. I guess my face looked funny because Zach has asked me several times why I was closing one eye and scrunching up my face. And I must have been breathing funny because Ben has asked me several times about that as well as asking why I was grabbing the chair. Faith saw me having it and was the one to call 911 (I'm so proud of her), she yelled for Sean and he saw me laying on the floor with my head on one of the chairs.
I didn't come to until I was in the ambulance. They told me I had a seizure while on the way to the hospital. I got my usual room in the ER! They did a cat scan to make sure I didn't have a concussion, which luckily I didn't, but my head was really bruised and hurt bad.
It turns out that I forgot to take my medicine for 2 days, so thank God it was nothing major. But it did give us all a good scare and I don't think I will ever forget my meds, nor will any of my children ever let me as they ask many times during the day if I remembered to take it!!
Yesterday was so hard, because sometimes I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. I worry about my children having to see things like that and their fears. I also feel guilty every time they ask if I remembered my meds, because that is not something a 3, 6, and 8 year old should have to be concerned about. Yesterday Faith was asking me about my plans if I died, whether or not I want to be buried (for the record, I don't!), which is not something a normal 17 year old senior in high school should have to ever worry about or even have the need to ask their mother. Last night in our support group a daughter, who is 38, of a brain cancer patient said she gets mad easily at her mom because she is so mad her mom has cancer. And if she feels this at 38, I can't imagine what Faith feels.
And it sucks that at 37 I have to figure out my plans for when I do end up dying, not that I plan to soon. But it will come to that point at some time and I have to figure it out while I'm still functioning.
Another weight on me is that my 1 year since my diagnosis is coming up on the 20th of this month. I wonder if since the doctors gave me 3 to 8 years to live, if this means I now have 2 to 7 years.
It's such a weird thing to feel that I almost have to cheer people up when they ask how I'm doing. I just don't want others to worry about me or feel sad, so I always feel the need to put on a happy face.
On the bright side (see I always feel the need to cheer you up, now that I gave such a tearful update, but maybe this will make me stop crying) I did get runner up in the Yahoo Women who Shine contest. Which will get me a $250 Visa gift card! But even better than getting that prize is knowing that out of 160 something women in the survivor category, I got 1st place in the whole United States!! It was amazing and so uplifting reading all of the comments, knowing people I have never met and who don't know me are praying for me.
Sorry for such a dismal update. I'm hoping the next one will be better. I have my next doctor's appoint with my brain cancer team on December 17th. On December 10th I will be getting a mammogram and ultrasound as my doctor found several lumps in my breasts yesterday (but honestly that is no fear for me and in my mind doesn't even compare to the brain cancer stuff going on)."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Florida and Downtown Disney

We were off to Florida where we would be spending quite a lot of our 7 week trip.

We left Alabama while the kids were still sleeping and Ben was the last one to wake up, even our dog, Honey, joined him!

When we arrived in Florida, Zach (my saver, he loves to keep things and finds the coolest things) found this colorful leaf

Another picture by a state sign (I'm going to have to do something cool with all of these state pictures, leave me a comment if you think of anything good or crafty that I can do with them).

 We found the biggest bug, I made Ben put his hand by it so you could see how big it really was!

Disney World was a huge compound, nothing like Disneyland Park near us. And I thought New Orleans was the most expensive campground, until we came to Camp Wilderness, the official Disney World Campground.

There were many tiny (maybe baby) lizards all over the campground, my boys loved finding them and picking them up. They enjoyed walking around the campground, which was flooded 

 We took the tram/bus from the campground to Downtown Disney and got all of our shopping in, so we wouldn't do it while visiting the park, since we were only planning on spending one day at the park. We bought our tickets the day before from a local Walmart.

After shopping we walked out to a squirting Stitch from the movie Lilo and Stitch. The boys had fun getting wet and it was nice since it was still hot out.

My silly boys still having fun getting wet!

As we were leaving I saw these and wanted them to put their heads through the middles of the shirts...

 but they didn't figure it out!

 We took the bus back to the campground, but ended up getting on the wrong bus and taking an extremely long bus trip through all of the hotels and back to Downtown Disney to get on the right bus. Not sure how I messed that one up, but I did!!

 We finally made our way back to the campground, very tired, and went straight to bed! Very excited to spend the day at Disney World, the kids picked it instead of the other parks when we said we were only going to one of them.

Alabama Detour to see the cousins!

We knew that while on our cross country bucket list trip, we wanted to visit as many family members as possible. After we left New Orleans, we had about a 6 hour drive up to my cousins house in Alabama. The Eastern states are so close that it's fairly easy to bounce around.
Another state to add to our growing list!

Since we are vegetarian, people often don't know what to cook for us, so we ended up going out to a Mexican food restaurant in the downtown area.
 After dinner the kids were given food to feed the fish in the pond and they all loved it!

Then we returned to their beautifully decorated house (my cousin's wife, Holly, is such a great decorator).
We took a picture of the cousins!

Then we had the kids take a "silly" picture. I think my kids were a little more silly!!

After this we went to their community pool and swam until late in the night. Swimming at night is great because it gets the kids extra tired and they continued to sleep a couple hours after we left my cousins house, which makes for a nice quiet RV drive for Sean and I for a couple of hours!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hit and Run and Nawlins

We left Tennessee for New Orleans early in the morning so that we could get there in time to enjoy the evening there. We planned to stay 2 nights at the campground.
 We drove through Mississippi and at one point, Sean decided that he didn't want to drive and that it was my turn. So he pulled off the freeway at a gas station and we switched drivers. When I was pulling out of the gas station, Sean said "you are way to close to that car, you're gotta hit it!"  I pulled out of the gas station and paused in the street to see if I did scrape the car, like Sean thought I may have, but there was no movement from the car, even though there were people in it. So I got on the freeway ans headed south to New Orleans, when about 10 minutes later I see the car that I came close to following us. I pulled over off the freeway. Looking in the back up camera and rear view mirrors I could see two big tattooed me get out of the car as they followed us off the freeway! I told Sean and he said "kids, stay in the RV" while he and I were getting out. The men said they were sleeping in the car with their girlfriends when one said they felt a bump and saw an RV, so they didn't even fully realize if we had bumped them or not and we told them we knew we got really close, but didn't feel anything. We saw a mark on their car in the front, but one of the men rubbed it out and we rubbed out a mark on the side of our RV. The men, however scary they were, ended up being very nice and said "it's an old beat up car, we're not going to worry about it. Enjoy your trip!" Wow, were we ever shocked! People in Mississippi were so nice, or like Sean says they were still drunk from the night before and didn't want to get into trouble for that.
 We continued on our trip and made it to New Orleans. I must say, I have never felt heat like this before. I am now worried about Florida and the rest of the East!
It was a beautiful drive across a very long bridge.
We drove past the Mercedes Benz Superdome

We hit the town and were not really impressed. The only thing I enjoyed was the architecture. It was definitely not a place for kids! About half of the shops on Bourbon street were strip clubs, many with half naked women poking out of the shop trying to lure men in. One store had porn playing on a big screen as we walked by, luckily none of my children saw it.

 We walked around in the heat and found a nice place to eat with air conditioning. The wait was long, but we wanted to really experience the town and many people told us about this restaurant, since we had never been there before and would probably never go back. 

 Patiently waiting for our table!

 Once seated, Sean and I ordered a fried Cajun seafood platter that had a large fried crab! The boys thought it was great and wanted pictures with it and to taste it, since they both really enjoy seafood. Here is Zach with the crab (don't worry, there was no shell), but it still was the shape of a crab!
Ben waiting for his turn as Josh takes a bite of the crab!
We ended the evening by walking back to our campground, which was the nicest campground we have stayed at so far. We stopped at a fun shop where the boys tried on hats for a full experience! Boy did they look cute!!
 After we got back from Bourbon Street, we went swimming. It was a great place to cool down and get the kids tired out for a good night's sleep. (I had to take these pool pictures the next morning as it was too dark when we were there at night.)

 Here is the picture of the campground, it was right next to Bourbon Street, we only had to walk a couple blocks! Each spot was paved and had a little grass, but it was just so clean and in the perfect location for us. Which is probably why it is the most expensive camp ground we stayed at!

 In the morning we walked around the town a little more, it was still hot and there were people all over cleaning up the area, washing the sidewalk off, etc. We were told that we had to eat a beignet and that there was no better place than the famous Cafe Du Monde. We were lucky to find a seat fairly quickly when we arrived. When we left there was a very long line of people waiting to get a seat. 

The beignets were great! We all enjoyed them and the boys got powdered sugar all over themselves!

I took some pictures of the architecture in hopes of framing some when we get home.
I plan on doing this and already have taken some nice scenic photos so that I can frame them and hang them in our dining room as a reminder of all that we did as a family!
Our walk back to the campground was even more beautiful in the day! But it was still overwhelmingly hot!!
We decided not to stay another night as we felt we did everything in New Orleans that you can do as a family and there was no point in staying another night, so we left in the morning and headed up to my cousins house in Alabama.